The Score of Guilt- From Charlie Hebdo to Chapel Hill

For a moment I felt a pang of guilt. After getting into countless arguments about atheism not promoting a radical and hateful agenda there it was in black and white:

An Atheist killed 3 young Muslims over a parking spot.

What are we to do? Obviously our moral leaders should get together and condemn this kind of rampant behav--

--and that is where the guilt ended. We have no moral leaders, and this behavior is atypical of atheists in general (because it's atypical of humanity, and really we don't claim to be anything more than human.)*

I've often said that I'm not a scientist, I'm also not a sociologist or psychologist. I am an expert of mostly useless things, and I'm okay with that. Greater minds than mine study the universe and my understanding of the scientific method goes just far enough that I don't go to Whole Foods for medicine during cold and flu season.

I'm a perfectly ordinary, stay at home mom and atheist. The universe is amazing and complicated, but I really need to make my son an after school snack so if you don't mind I'll get back to you about string theory once he's in college...

I feel like I need to write this for the others like me. Those of us who may feel overwhelmed by our facebook feeds for the next few days, those of us who may have "friends" who are shitty enough to actually tag us in these accusations.

This behavior does not reflect on us as atheists. We do not have a Dogma that guides us to act in this way. We have no text that we all accept unanimously as the unquestionable word of truth. For us, truth is something to be examined and picked apart to its components and context... So...

Charlie Hebdo:
The components: 12 dead, 5 critically injured, 3 day attack. 
Motivation: Muslim extremism, hatred
Context: Ongoing tension in the face of radical religious extremism vs. freedom of expression

Chapel Hill:
The components: 3 dead
Motivation: Parking space, possibly Islamophobia.
Context: Still being determined, but accusations against atheism are unfounded. A precedent for this behavior does not exist among atheist groups, nor has the shooter been connected to other radical atheist hate groups.

No matter how many people try and paint this as a global issue against rational thinking, it is important to remember the truth. Do not let them paint us as monsters, now is the time for the average atheist (the non-horseman variety) to show our faces and let it be known we will not be labeled this way.


* In spite of all the violence on the news I still say it is atypical human behavior, based solely on the fact that we haven't wiped ourselves out...yet.

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